Hilary Dulany has found great success in the cannabis industry. As the CEO of Accuvape, Dulany has traveled between Oregon and Michigan to grow her business while adapting to the changing rules and regulations in each market.
Dulany offered up insight into being a woman in the cannabis industry, in addition to offering expert advice to budding entrepreneurs during a recent interview with MiBiz. Michigan first voted in favor of medical cannabis back in 2008. Following this, Dulany put together business models and went on to organize Michigan’s first cannabis expo. From there she helped create a publication called Midwest Cultivator, which allowed the newly formed cannabis industry an avenue for advertising.
The next step was finding a way to make money nationwide. Delany knew the primary investor of the successful vape company, O.Pen, and she realized she could make money across the United States by selling electronics for vape pens. Dulany shared her next steps with MiBiz. “At that point, the options for getting in the [medical marijuana] market were very limited. In Michigan, pretty much any time, something bad could happen to you,” Dulany said. “As soon as I started making enough money on this, [O.Pen’s] lawyers sent me a cease and desist letter. I sent them a letter back and said, ‘Thank you, I’m staring my own company anyway.’”
“This is one industry where in the beginning, mostly in Michigan, I was treated as the little lady, especially among old-school, old-man growers and store owners. When they knew I knew how to grow, that’s when they welcomed me into the fold.”
In addition to selling vaporizers with her company Accuvape, Dulany decided to open up a lab with her boyfriend. They started Aardvark Extracts after purchasing a 13,000-square-foot greenhouse. Although it appears that success came easily to Dulany, she definitely had to fight to gain respect in an industry that was largely male-dominated over the years.
In her interview with MiBiz, Dulany shared her experience as a woman in Michigan’s early cannabis industry. “This is one industry where in the beginning, mostly in Michigan, I was treated as the little lady, especially among old-school, old-man growers and store owners,” Dulany stated. “When they knew I knew how to grow, that’s when they welcomed me into the fold.” Dulany’s company Accuvape was one of the first companies to sponsor Women Grow, which is an organization that “connects, educates, and empowers women in all segments of the cannabis industry,” according to Women Grow’s website.
By proving herself in the cannabis industry for so many years, Dulany sees the potential for the future, as medical and recreational states continue to push for stricter rules and regulations. She offers advice to anyone who is operating in the cannabis industry or who would like to enter into the market. “In business, the first questions you ask yourself is: What is my exit plan? Either you have to be in a position to acquire or be acquired, one or the other,” Dulany stated. “That will determine what will happen in the industry. We’re starting to see Miracle-Gro and Microsoft dipping their toes in the cannabis pool through ancillary means. With Accuvape, I went from a very small business to a national brand in a matter of three years. Still, I’m setting myself up to be acquired.”
Although her brand has seen nationwide success, Dulany knows that bigger and stronger entrepreneurs will enter into the cannabis industry. By having the knowledge that her company will one day become acquired, Dulany is being realistic and proactive about where the regulated cannabis market will take her in the future.